Should I stay in a country because of jobs or should I move?
December 1, 2020 3:05 PM   Subscribe

I am in a tricky life situation and I need some help. I am currently living in a country and I don’t know if I want to stay here. Don’t get me wrong, I have enjoyed many aspects of my life here and I cherish the experiences that I have had but this country is lacking for me on the personal side. People here are very distant and aloof. Communicating is also a challenge. I do speak the local language but not perfectly. That has led to a lot of awkwardness and misunderstandings in my interactions.

I have also had a number of difficult or not satisfying experiences with former romantic partners. My job contract is ending soon and basically I am free to leave if I want to. What makes me hesitate? I really enjoyed my job here and jobs are much better here than back home. I come from a small place and there are no jobs there. I could go to a bigger city in my country and I would find more opportunities there but nothing is certain. Given the current situation, it is even harder. I have seen some jobs offers here and there that are compatible with my background but I don’t know if I should apply. I guess the jobs seem exciting per se but I am not sure I want to live in the cities where these jobs are offered, because they are in the same country where I am now. I do find that living here can be nice but not over the top nice, just normal, tending to boring nice.

I have savings and an apartment back home and I could easily get by for some years if I went back there. I also feel that maybe jobs are not as important as I think. But the future might get tricky down the line if I don’t find a stable job in the future. Not having a good job could affect not only my financial situation, but also, my self-esteem and even my relationships. I have had a number of experiences with men who didn’t respect me because my job situation at the time was not ideal. But honestly, the job situation might not be as bad as I imagine at home. I just don’t know if I should look for jobs here or just in places that I think I will enjoy more (that would drastically reduce the pool of jobs available, because many of these jobs are concentrated in this country and a few more).

I guess that what I want to ask is: what do you think I should prioritize in life? Should it be work? Should it be living a place that I find pleasant? I have become very indecisive about this and it has paralyzed me a bit. I sense that there is a blind spot in my thought processes and I can’t quite pinpoint where it is. What would you do if you were in my place? Could you give me some advice? Thanks for reading.
posted by Fromthesouth to Work & Money (8 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: What do you think you should prioritize in life? There are a lot of other options besides work and location. My priorities right now are fun and ethics. If There isn't an obvious answer, then the options you're considering are equally good, just different.

It is like that field tri p when I was a kid. There was a massive mountain of potatoes- twice as tall as the adults! Each child was allowed to pick a potato to take home. I spent so much time trying to choose the largest possible potato that in the end I had to chase down my classmates
and I didn't get any potato at all.

Don't try to choose the biggest possible potato. Just grab a decent potato and live your life!
posted by aniola at 3:21 PM on December 1, 2020 [6 favorites]

Best answer: I'd definitely prioritise living in a place that I find pleasant (otherwise... what's the point of any of it?), but I guess the difficulty is if that means being on such a low wage that your life in fact wouldn't be that pleasant.

I'd probably go for the bigger city in my country, if there are some jobs there that would suit you reasonably well (I can't quite tell if that's the case from your question). Living somewhere that you find it hard to have connection and community is fine for a few years of adventure but it's not what I'd aspire to for life.

What are your other aspirations in life? For example, do you hope to have a family? What age are you? Do you have elderly family members that you'd like to be close to in their old age? You don't have to answer these here, but the answers are different for a 35-year-old woman who wants a kids and misses her elderly parents, to a 23-year-old who's ambivalent about kids and has a distant relationship with her family, to a 50-year-old with no family ties (I'm assuming from the name on your account that you're a woman, obviously the equation is different again for men).

Also, nothing is forever. Whatever you decide, you can re-decide or un-decide in future. You can move home, and if it's terrible and you pine for overseas, go back (with obvious caveats if you were to go home and have 10 kids...)
posted by penguin pie at 3:24 PM on December 1, 2020 [1 favorite]

Would you feel happier if you found a community of people with a similar background to you? Same language? Would the larger cities in your current country offer more opportunities to spend time with people like yourself who might also be experiencing the same feelings you are? Is that something that would make staying in your current country easier for you? (You don't need to reply. These are just some questions you can ask yourself and see how you feel).
posted by NotTheRedBaron at 3:29 PM on December 1, 2020 [1 favorite]

What is stopping you from looking at jobs in ALL of these places (home, other cities in the country you live in now, other cities that you might consider living in)? It sounds like you are trying to define an end goal and map backwards; I think that's why it seems so daunting and paralyzing because you are trying to make the biggest/hardest decisions first.

Priorities in life change because life changes. What is the most important thing to you right now? Based on this and your previous question I think you already know the answer.
posted by sm1tten at 4:00 PM on December 1, 2020 [4 favorites]

How about a scouting trip? Take a month and spend it in the bigger city, or the hometown. See how it feels. That way it's just a toe in the water, not an irreversible leap.

I've lived in a place where I felt out of place as a visible minority, and it was a demoralizing miasma that I didn't notice until I left. Just simple things like people looking right past you at the grocery or cafe, can be wearying day after day. If it's like that for you, then a change is in order, though sometimes it can be just a new neighborhood or new city in the same career-friendly country.

If you feel that you have good thing going with the job/industry/career, treat it like the precious and fragile thing it is. It's something many people would love to have. Set things up so you can come back gracefully if needed.
posted by dum spiro spero at 7:06 PM on December 1, 2020 [3 favorites]

Best answer: I’m currently in a similar position: I’m not in my home country, I want to leave my job and where I am now, I find the variables (what would the new place I move to be like, what would my new job/ co-workers/ boss be like, what happens if I uproot my comfortable normal, tending to boring life only to find myself in a comfortable normal, tending to boring life someplace else?) overwhelming and paralyzing, and I perceive that where I go next is determined by job availability in my field. I have also been in this position before – I was laid off and travelled for a while, then moved to a different location and it took me a year to find this job I now want to leave, so I’m also informed by a fear of repeating that year, because for me it’s horrible trying to find a job when you’re out of work, as it really raises the ante and puts me under unpleasant pressure, going to an interview knowing the outcome determines whether I’ll have income or not (not to mention the aspect of self-esteem you mention, which is not insignificant).

The way I’m trying to approach this situation is that, while my natural tendency is to try to control the outcome by using the myriad of resources available – job boards, company reviews, YouTubes of what it’s like to live in location X, etc. - I have to move forward accepting that I really can’t control how this next step will play out: I either have to grab one of aniola’s potatoes, else I’ll sit here and stare at the potato mountain indefinitely – i.e. at a certain level, the only choice I can make is to move or not, and everything beyond that is just calculated risk. I also find that when I’m in this position of unknowing-ness, my brain tends towards simplistic examples of knowing – e.g. that friend who hated job A or location B and then moved to city X and now they love city X and/ or their job Y and/ or their new partner Z – and I have to be mindful that my brain just wants the equivalent of ads for pills that make you slimmer, younger, smarter – i.e. a fantasy single fix, and I have to bring myself back to accepting that that just doesn’t exist for this situation which has a complex array of agents and outcomes.

I guess what I’m saying here is that whatever you choose to prioritize to attempt to make your decision easier isn’t likely going to have a major impact on the outcome. The outcome is just a formula of your research/ due diligence + your aptitude for moving and living in different places (which you clearly already have) * unknown factors which you can’t account for. So rather than using the perspective of “how can I make this single best decision?”, it’s maybe a question of, “here are some options: I’ll try one, it might not work out - if it doesn't, I’ll try another.” And really, in the grand scheme of things, it's also worth acknowledging that to be able to do that is a privilege in itself.
posted by my log does not judge at 7:19 PM on December 1, 2020 [2 favorites]

Best answer: I've been in your situation many years ago (nice country but a similar vibe) and chose to move back to my home country. I'm glad I did even if it was a readjustment at first. I'm currently living abroad (well, in limbo) and also looking to return home next year. (Friendly country with a bad economic situation.) I will almost certainly find a job but I'll have to find a place to live, life is very expensive, etc. Part of me wishes I were back already but mostly I wish COVID hadn't fucked everything up so much. (I've been stuck outside my chosen country of residence waiting to get back to get to my apartment and cat and classes. It's been expensive and shitty but enriching, too.)

That said about my current perspective, a few thoughts about yours: you wrote very little about your current country that makes me think you actually enjoy living there. At least not more than in your home country. Here's what I can say about my situation, because I have been on the fence: "My goal is to become fluent in target language and I can achieve this by July by doing XYZ. I want to connect with my new friends there, safety-permitting. I am not going to actively date when I'm there because I haven't had the best experiences and know I want to return to my home country in eight months." and then made a plan of how I'm going to do it all knowing it'll be hard in many ways. What are your goals, big and small, short-term and long-term? What values are most important to you?

Again, I don't know your home country and, yes, things are rough almost everywhere in terms of finding jobs but why not start looking and applying?! You'll have a place to live and could always get a roommate, etc. Things really can work out! But they could probably also work out where you are now, too. I agree that moving to the city is a good choice should you decide to stay. Is there any way you could work on your target language if you stay, too? Are you motivated to try and do you have access to resources to help you improve?

As for dating, I have no idea where you are but it sounds like you've had some awful experiences and that makes me sad for you. While there are plenty of international romance stories, the reality is that, for most of us, dating abroad is much harder than dating at home. When I read that people weren't respecting you due to your job status, I get angry. Whether this is just your perception or very much reality, how fucking awful to have to deal with that bullshit.

Life is too short to be miserable and you sound very unhappy due to situational reasons. The pandemic has made everything harder but it's also shown us what our priorities are. Whatever you decide to do, it sounds like you're ready for a change and it will be positive even when it's hard. I also hope you can seek out therapy, online or in person, for more personalized support right now. You certainly deserve it!
posted by smorgasbord at 8:47 PM on December 1, 2020

Response by poster: Thank you all for your wonderful answers and advice. The metaphor of the potato will stick with me forever!

I am aware that no choice is perfect and I think that there will be an element of regret in any choice I make... your answers have helped me see that I should relax a bit and explore different possibilities.

This question that I made is related to the feeling of belonging that I have been searching for for a long time. I sometimes didn't feel like I belonged to the place where I grew up... so I guess that is partially why I was able to easily uproot myself but at this point in my life, I feel that I need to settle down and grow roots. I'll soon find where.

Thanks again.
posted by Fromthesouth at 1:02 PM on December 3, 2020

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